Dating apps are known for being many things (distracting and stressful come to mind), but transparent isn't one of them. It makes sense: When you only have a few seconds to make an impression, some personal details get omitted. But for many people with disabilities, this part of traditional dating apps is a major source of anxiety — do you include your disability in your profile or wait to disclose that information later on?
Geoffrey Anderson saw this problem firsthand while watching his older brother, who has cognitive disabilities, download Tinder and quickly get discouraged when deciding what to put on his profile.
So Anderson, who also previously worked at a nonprofit advocating for people with disabilities, set out to design an app that could eliminate the stigma surrounding people with disabilities by removing the pressure of deciding whether or not to disclose disabilities in their profiles.
The result is Glimmer, an iOS and Android app that aims to promote transparency among potential partners and make online dating more inclusive. It functions similarly to other dating apps in most ways, but there is one unique and vital feature: Selecting disabilities from a list. It may sound trivial, but by allowing users to select disabilities from a list — just like you would on a traditional dating app for ethnicity, diet preference, or religion — it helps to normalize how they identify themselves and gives them the freedom to reveal their disabilities with less fear of rejection.
Nothing is forced on users, however. The app gives users the choice to select, deselect, hide, or show their disabilities on their profiles. Users can create an account by attaching their Facebook or Instagram profiles, which are used to gather liked posts to find the closest matches for a potential relationship.
While the app was designed with people with disabilities in mind, its aim is to be welcoming to all people. "Anyone and everyone are encouraged to use it," Anderson said. "The hope is that disability inclusion will lead to a reduction of the fear or stigma that accompanies having a disability."
In addition to its inclusivity in-app, Glimmer Industries also donates a portion of all its revenue to charitable organizations that share their same values. Glimmer's mission is to become a "leading example for disability inclusion in technology and elsewhere," Anderson said.